Why French?: 10 Reasons to study le français
1. You can converse with French speakers across the globe. French is the native language of some 200 million people and is the second language of millions more. In Europe, it is spoken in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg. In the Americas, it is an official language of Canada and spoken in the Caribbean. French is widely spoken in North Africa, much of Western and Central Africa, and parts of Southeast Asia. As an official language of numerous countries, being able to speak French is an asset for anyone interested in working in international organizations such as the Peace Corps, the International Red Cross, UNESCO, and others.
2. French is one of three working languages in the European Union of twenty-five nations, the world's largest economic entity. With a population of 350 million and a gross national product larger than the United States, the European Union is an economic super power.
3. French is a language of business. Today, American companies have over 2,000 subsidiaries in France, and French companies have over 600 subsidiaries in the United States. Major corporations with headquarters or subsidiaries in the United States and France include DuPont, Hewlett-Packard, Xerox, Apple Computer, Michelin, Renault, Bic and many more.
4. French is a language of technology and medicine. Dr. Luc Montagnier discovered HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The Chunnel under the English Channel, the TGV high-speed trains, and the Concorde are only a few examples of recent French technological advances.
5. French fashion designers, artists, writers, musicians, chefs and filmmakers have had a wide influence in the United States and the rest of the world.
6. Impressionist painters like Monet, musicians like Ravel and Boulez, novelists like Flaubert and Camus, are an indispensable asset to world culture. Many recent American films like Three Men and Point of No Return are remakes of French movies. Where would Julia Child be without French cuisine? Who hasn't heard of Christian Dior, Chanel, and Pierre Cardin?
7. French is the language of influential, religious and intellectual movements. Jean Calvin helped define Protestantism; Enlightenment writers like Voltaire championed human rights; Simone de Beauvoir was a prominent feminist, and Michel Foucault was a founder of postmodernism.
8. French is a language of tourism. Paris is the third most visited international city by Americans. France is the second most visited country in the world, and Québec offers a taste of Europe in North America.
9. French is melodious and easier to learn for English speakers. French is a romantic language with a relatively quick learning curve. French provides the base for more than 50% of modern English vocabulary, helping improve performance on standardized testing.
10. French is a cure for monolingualism. By learning French, you help promote language diversity throughout the world and you have direct access to another culture. As a Romance language, French gives you a head start on learning Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian.